The Court of Appeal upheld a decision to dismiss a religious discrimination claim in Page v Lord Chancellor.
Richard Page was a Lay Magistrate in Kent. In July 2014, he declined to sign an order approving the adoption of a child by a same sex couple based on his beliefs as a Christian. He expressed that his views were premised in his religious and philosophical beliefs. Mr Page later spoke to the BBC, appearing on the BBC Breakfast television programme, further stating “it would be better if it was a man and a woman who were the adopted [sic] parents”. Mr Page was subsequently removed from the bench in 2016, as well as being dismissed from a senior NHS role.
In March 2016, Mr Page commenced Employment Tribunal proceedings stating his removal from the bench constituted unlawful discrimination and/or harassment in relation to his religious beliefs and/or victimisation. His claim was dismissed because Mr Page publicly stated he would apply his biased views when exercising his judicial responsibilities.
Mr Page then appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’). The appeal was permitted to proceed on the victimisation claim but he was not permitted to pursue the discrimination and harassment claims. The EAT dismissed the appeal. Mr Page then appealed to the Court of Appeal.
In February 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision dismissing Mr Page’s claim of religious discrimination, affirming that Mr Page was removed as a lay magistrate as a result of his non-compliance to his judicial responsibilities to act in a non-biased manner. Underhill LJ stated:
“The basis on which he was dismissed was entirely lawful and involved no breach of his human rights”.
The Court of Appeal confirmed a fundamental principle of a magistrate, as a public servant, is to act free from any political, racial, sexual or other bias.
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